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Kirk, after 8-year wait, wins Honda Classic


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Chris Kirk waited nearly eight years to win a PGA Tour event again. Waiting one more hole on Sunday was no problem.

Kirk stuck his approach to the par-5 18th to tap-in range, and his birdie on the first hole of a playoff lifted him past Eric Cole for the victory at the Honda Classic on Sunday.

Cole had a chance, playing his third shot from the sand to just outside of 10 feet for a birdie that would have extended the playoff. But it lipped out, and Kirk nudged his ball in for his fifth career win – his first since prevailing at Colonial in 2015.

“I was obviously very, very nervous today having not won in so long,” Kirk said. “Coming down the stretch, I felt good.”

And he’ll be the last Honda winner. The car company is ending its title sponsorshi­p of the event after 42 years, with a new sponsor set to be in place – the PGA Tour hopes, anyway – in the coming weeks.

They finished 72 holes tied at 14-under 266, Kirk shooting 69 on Sunday, Cole shooting 67.

Kirk earned $1,512,000 for the win, and is now eligible to play the Masters again for the first time since 2016. Cole earned $915,600 for the runner-up finish, a check that more than doubles what the 34-year-old has earned in 14 previous tour starts.

“I loved it. It was a lot of fun,” Cole said. “I can’t wait to get back and do it again. I didn’t have my best stuff today, and I was proud of how hard I fought.”

Kirk went to the par-5 18th with a one-shot lead. His tee shot found the fairway. His second shot found the water, leading to bogey. Cole made par, giving Kirk new life in the playoff.

“Bad swing at the wrong time . ... Thank God it worked out,” Kirk said.

Kirk hadn’t held a trophy since 2015. That’s not to say he hasn’t done any winning in that span.

He walked away from the game in May 2019 because of alcoholism and depression. He struggled with anxiety, struggled to deal with pressure, even

had said that after this season he planned to opt out of the $300 million, 10-year free agent deal he signed in 2019. With the $120 million he already has received, the new deal increases the free-spending Padres’ commitment to Machado to $470 million over 15 years.

Machado finished second in the NL MVP race last year. He’ll anchor a superstar-laden lineup that includes Xander Bogaerts, Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr., who can return on April 20 from an 80-game suspension for performanc­e-enhancing drugs.

Machado batted .298 with 32 home runs and 102 RBIS last season.


Michael Conforto saw his first game action in more than a year and went 1 for 3 as the San Francisco Giants’ designated hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. He singled his final time up.

“Felt good to be back. I definitely had some nerves. After the first at-bat most of them went away,” he said.

Conforto, who turns 30 on Wednesday, hadn’t played since Oct. 3, 2021, when he was with the New York Mets. He missed all of 2022 after having right shoulder surgery but signed a twoyear, $36 million contract with the Giants in the offseason.

He said the plan is to DH for a couple of weeks, then play some outfield.

“Really what matters is getting to opening day healthy,” Conforto said. “But today was good.”


Yankees slugger Aaron Judge received several ovations from the crowd at Steinbrenn­er Field before his first game in pinstripes as the new team captain.

“I felt it with the intro, I felt it on defense, I felt it stepping up to the plate,” the reigning AL MVP said.

Judge was a free agent

after last season but ended up signing a $360 million, nine-year contract with the Yankees. He also was named the team’s first captain since Hall of Famer Derek Jeter in 2014.

“He loves the game, and obviously being back here, to be able to put the uni on and go out, I think it was something he was looking forward to,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.


Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara received his NL Cy Young Award trophy on Sunday for the second time – and this time he has no reason to give it back.

“I want to keep it for the rest of my life,” Alcantara said. “I think that is for my mom.”

When the Baseball Writers’ Associatio­n of America originally presented Alcantara with the trophy at its January awards dinner, the plaque language dubbed both Alcantara and AL winner Justin Verlander the “most valuble” pitchers in their leagues, leaving out the second “a” in “valuable.”

The new plaque contains the more up-to-date “most outstandin­g” phrasing – and it’s spelled correctly.

Marlins owner Bruce Sherman presented the award to Alcantara at home plate before Miami’s spring training home opener against St. Louis.

“I didn’t expect that I was going to get my award today,” Alcantara said. “I thought I’d go outside and have fun with my teammates. But when I saw the surprise, it made my day today.”


Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said Major League Baseball is providing updates – nearly in real time – on the rules changes package that is making this spring training unique.

The two major changes are a pitch clock and a limit on extreme infield shifts.

“They did a really nice job of sending out a memo this morning with all the things that took place yesterday

and questions that players and managers that just had to be addressed in order that you can cover it with your staff and club as you feel appropriat­e,” Marmol said. “So we did that with our staff and brought two different points with our players because they’ve done a really good job of communicat­ion.”

The new rules already had an effect during Saturday’s first full day of games: Cal Conley of the Atlanta Braves thought he had just won the game with a two-out, bases-loaded walk. But umpire John Libka ruled that Conley wasn’t set in the box as the pitch clock wound under eight seconds.

He was ruled out. The game ended in a tie.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Sunday that Conley’s situation was part of a learning process.

“It’s baseball. You’re going to see something you’ve never seen before,” Snitker said. “All to the point where I said I’m glad we’re starting these things when we did. I’m glad we didn’t wait until March 15 or something where we can have a whole month of this, and hopefully in a few weeks that this thing is just normal.”

There were more hiccups on Sunday throughout the Cactus and Grapefruit League games, but most took the changes in stride.

Rockies reliever Daniel Bard was called for a ball after throwing a warmup pitch after the 30-second deadline heading into an inning. The 30-second mark before innings was also a source of confusion during the Cardinals-marlins game. Two Cardinals pitchers were called for balls before the start of innings before, according to Marmol, the umpires gathered and realized they were interpreti­ng the rule incorrectl­y.

“It’s spring training for everybody,” Marmol said. “Those things will get ironed out before we get out of here.”

SCHERZER FINE WITH CLOCK New York Mets righthande­r

Max Scherzer described pitching under the new major league rules as a “cat-and-mouse” game.

Contrary to previous years, Scherzer feels the pitcher finally has gained control.

In his first start of the Grapefruit League schedule, Scherzer was touched for a run in the second inning but struck out five while working the first two innings of the Mets’ 6-3 win over Washington.

“Really, the power the pitcher has now – I can totally dictate pace,” the threetime Cy Young Award winner said. “The rule change of the hitter having only one timeout changes the complete dynamic of the hitter-and-pitcher dynamic. Yeah, I love it.”

Washington’s Michael Chavis, the second hitter in the second inning, stepped out of the box when he felt Scherzer was taking too long. That was fine with Scherzer.

He held the ball for more than 10 seconds before delivering the next pitch as Chavis had to remain in the batter’s box, no matter the level of his impatience. The fact that Chavis ultimately singled to right was immaterial. Scherzer had imposed his will.

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” Scherzer said. “There’s rules and I’ll operate within whatever the rules are.”


The Minnesota Twins claimed right-handed pitcher Dennis Santana off waivers from the Atlanta Braves.

The 26-year-old threw in 63 games, including one start, for the Texas Rangers last season, going 3-8 with a 5.22 ERA. To make room for Santana on the 40-man roster, the Twins put infielder Royce Lewis on the 60-day injured list.

Lewis is recovering from right knee surgery.

AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum, AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson and freelancer­s Chuck King, Mark Didtler, Jack Thompson and Rick Hummel contribute­d to this report.

 ?? LYNNE SLADKY/AP ?? CHRIS KIRK holds the trophy after winning the Honda Classic golf tournament in a playoff against Eric Cole on Sunday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
LYNNE SLADKY/AP CHRIS KIRK holds the trophy after winning the Honda Classic golf tournament in a playoff against Eric Cole on Sunday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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